The Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) reported that on May 18, a telehandler at the Young Mine, Jefferson County, Tenn., was towing a trailer with a diesel pump onboard up an inclined underground roadway when the tow hitch suddenly broke. The trailer rolled down the roadway, striking and fatally injuring a contract laborer.
This is the 12th fatality reported in 2021, and the third classified as “Machinery.”
MSHA recommends the following best practices to avoid this type of accident:
- Use towing hardware (hitches, tow bars, receivers, couplers, pins, pintles, safety chains/cables, etc.) that is properly designed and rated. Before each use, examine towing hardware for wear, cracks and other damage.
- Never exceed the recommended maximum towing capacity of a tow vehicle or trailer. Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations and only use equipment designed for towing.
- Always use properly sized safety chains in conjunction with hitches. Safety chains keep the trailer connected to the tow vehicle in case the other tow hardware fails.
- Never position yourself directly behind equipment being towed uphill.
- Establish procedures for safe and proper towing. Train miners to follow these procedures and identify hazards associated with towing.